On 21 June 2018 the UK government reached an agreement with the European Union (EU) on citizens’ rights, ahead of the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. Further details are set out in the EU Settlement Scheme: statement of intent


UK government proposals

UK government agreement: key points

The key points contained within the statement of intent are:

Citizens' rights

  • All EU citizens (except Irish citizens), will have to apply for UK residence documentation, regardless of when they arrived in the UK.
  • EU citizens and their family members who have five years’ continuous residence in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be eligible to apply for settled status enabling them to stay indefinitely.
  • EU citizens and their family members who arrive before 31 December 2020 but have not acquired five years’ continuous residence will be eligible for pre-settled status to allow them to stay long enough to reach the five year threshold and apply for settled status.
  • Settled/pre-settled status will allow EU citizens and their families to continue to live and work in the UK as now and:
    • Access public services, such as healthcare and schools
    • Access public funds and pensions, according to the same rules as now
    • Apply for British citizenship, if they meet the requirements
  • EU citizens and their family members who arrive after 31 December 2020 will be subject to the immigration rules in place at the time. 
  • Irish citizens residing in the UK will not need to apply for settled status, as their rights are rooted in the Ireland Act 1949 which pre-dates membership of the EU, but may choose to if they so wish.
  • Rights for citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are currently being negotiated, the intention is that the settlement scheme will also be open to them.

Family dependants

  • Family members of EU citizens who arrive in the UK  before 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for settled/pre-settled status as outlined above
  • Close family members (a spouse, civil partner, durable partner, dependent child or grandchild, and dependent parent or grandparent) living overseas will still be able to join EU citizens resident in the UK after the end of the implementation period, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK.
  • Future children of EU citizens will also be protected.
  • Children born in the UK will automatically acquire British citizenship.

Applying for Settled/Pre-Settled Status

  • EU citizens and their family members living in the UK will be able to start applying for settled/pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme from later this year. The scheme will open fully by March 2019.
  • The deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021 (except where applying to join a family member in the UK after this date)
  • Please note that the details of the scheme are subject to approval by Parliament.
  • The fee to apply will be £65 (£32.50 for under 16s). It will be free for those who already have a valid Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residence document or are applying to move from pre-settled to settled status.
  • The application will be online and EU citizens will be asked three "simple" questions to prove their identity, whether they live in the UK and whether they have criminal convictions.

Proof of identity

  • Applicants will need a valid passport or national identity card. If they’re from outside the EU, they can use a valid passport or biometric residence card.
  • When they apply, they’ll be able to either scan their identity document using an Android mobile phone or tablet, or send their document by post. 
  • They’ll also need to upload a recent digital photo of their face.

Proof of residence

  • They can give the Home Office permission to check HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data that may show how long they’ve lived in the UK. They may need to provide evidence to prove their residence, for example P60s, bank statements, utility bills.
  • They’ll be able to submit scans of these documents through the online application form. They will not need to provide evidence of their entire residence in the UK, only for the period that proves they’re eligible for settled/pre-settled status.

Criminal convictions

  • If they’re over 18 they’ll be asked about their criminal history in the UK and overseas. They’ll also be checked against the UK’s crime databases. They may still get settled/pre-settled status even if they do have convictions. This will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Applying from outside the EU

  • They’ll need to provide proof of their relationship to their EU citizen family member (for example, a birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate). They’ll be able to scan and submit this through the online application form. They’ll also need to provide evidence of their family member’s identity and residence.
  • They’ll need to provide their fingerprints and a photo of their face at an application centre in the UK. They will not need to do this if they already have a biometric residence card.

After they apply

  • If their application is successful, they’ll be able to get proof of their status through an online service. They will not get a physical document unless they’re from outside the EU and do not already have a biometric residence card.
  • They will not lose their settled status unless they leave the UK for a period of more than 5 years.
  • If their application is unsuccessful, they can reapply if they do so by 30 June 2021. They can also appeal the decision if they apply from 30 March 2019.

What should I do now?

The Government continues to advise there is no need to do anything now. The implementation period will run from 29 March 2019 until 31 December 2020 and the rights of EU citizens and their families will not change until 1 January 2021. EU citizens and their families will have until June 2021 to apply for settled/pre-settled status. 

In light of the Government's agreement, the College recommends EEA nationals wait and apply for settled/pre-settled status. 

However, EEA nationals with Permanent Residence who have been in the UK for six years may wish to consider applying for British citizenship before exit. Equally those with six years’ continuous residence in the UK who have not yet applied for Permanent Residence may wish to consider doing so in order to allow them to apply for British citizenship.

The College’s legal and financial support package

For staff considering applying for British citizenship, we will continue to offer one hour’s individual legal advice (including support with completion of applications) through a specialist immigration firm. If you have already attended one of our EEA staff support presentations, please use the email address provided to contact the solicitors directly.  If you have not, then please email your request for legal advice to hrcompliance@imperial.ac.uk

There are some costs associated with payment of application fees and funding of additional legal support where necessary. Departments may consider reimbursing application fees at their discretion. Alternatively, an interest-free loan facility is available. Please see the Salary Advance for UK immigration application fees form for further details.

Updated FAQs will be available shortly.

We know that the EU Referendum decision has caused many of our staff great uncertainty as we employ many diverse nationalities in our community.  Staff can contact hrcompliance@imperial.ac.uk if there is any further information that would be helpful and we will attempt to respond to queries as soon as possible. We are committed to making this time of transition as painless as possible for our staff.